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Lawrence and I drove to an Ashland restaurant where I asked more about Haley’s background between bites of seafood. I was desperate for clues about his early musical experience.

Just where did he learn to play?

Lawrence said his dad was like other mountain folks: music “absolutely come freely to these people.” He said, “A lot of people think old-time music is a simple art form because so many people that play it have a poor educational background. These people think, ‘If they can learn to play it, it has to be a simple thing to do.’ But it’s actually a complicated business.”

A little later, I asked him about Clark Kessinger and Charleston, West Virginia.

“I been to Charleston with Pop a few times, but if Clark Kessinger was around he never let Pop know,” he said. “He’d probably request a tune from him. Of course, Pop was pretty sharp on voices, too. He recognized a lot of people just by their voice. If Clark come up and requested a piece of music from him, Dad probably knew it. He never said anything to me about it. We were just kids.”

I said, “Well, Clark Kessinger studied your dad close. Of course, he knew what good fiddling was.”

“You have to give him credit for that,” Lawrence said, taking a bite of fish.

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